Main altar of
Master Paul in Spišská Sobota
This study focuses
on the significant work of Master Paul of Levoča that celebrated half a
millennium of its existence last year. This representative altar of St. George,
dated to 1516 on the division section on the right-hand side, was ordered by
the townsmen of the rich but small privileged town of Spišská Sobota in the Spiš
region, with the aim to decorate the sacral interior of the local Church of St.
George. The church dominates the lens-shaped square of Spišská Sobota, with the
silhouette of the High Tatras mountains in the horizon, and manifests the
unique woodcarving work of the late-gothic era in the Spiš region.
The retable of St.
George represents a real Gesamtkunstwerk, meaning a related and stylish
comprehensive artwork, which capped the first and started the second phase of
Paul’s work. His latter artworks, in the course of the first third of the 15th
century, fundamentally influenced the interior sacral architectures in the Spiš
as well as the surrounding regions. The author of the article particularly
focuses on the exceptional quality of the wing retable’s figural carving, the
altar’s traditional three-part structure and its renaissance decoration, which
was new at the time. He analysis the spiritual significance of the work’s
iconography, which seems conventional at first glance, but after a detailed
inspection shows a hint in the carver’s hesitation about the validity of the
medieval positive-negative understanding of good fighting evil.
Master Paul broke
this traditional black and white conception with an inconspicuous gesture of
the depicted dragon, which clenches one of its hind legs into a fist with a
thumb sticking out between two toes. By using this mocking “fig sign”, Paul
encrypted the message of ever-present evil amongst the people on Earth. It
remains unclear, though, whether the benefactors of the altar extension
approved of this secret intention, or whether they even knew about it.
Zuzana Krempaská –
representatives of the Province of XVI Spiš Towns
The community of Spiš
Saxons, which stretches its beginnings to the 13th century, formed the basis
for the Province of XXIV Spiš Towns. This split into two parts in 1412. Part of
the Spiš region was offered as an assurance to Polish kings and these towns
created the Province of XIII Spiš Towns in 1416. Along with these assured
towns, three others ended up in the hands of the Polish kings: Podolínec, Stará
Ľubovňa and Hniezdne. Altogether 16 Spiš towns shared their fate
throughout the course of 360 years. The Hungarian Kingdom regained full
administrative control over them in 1772.
cultural monument Provincial House is the architectural gem in the town centre
of Spišská Nová Ves. It is one of the most significant non-religious historical
buildings in the Spiš region. Originally a town hall, it was named Provincial
House in 1775, when it became the administrative centre of the Province of XVI
Spiš Towns (1774 – 1876). Since the 7th of May 1951, for 66 years, it has
worked as the Spiš Museum.
reconstructed rooms of the Provincial House display the History of Spiš through
narrating the building and historic development in the region and in the town
of Spišská Nová Ves, as well as the history of the Province of XVI Spiš Towns.
The most precious set of artwork in the museum are the portraits of the
functionaries of the Province of XVI Spiš Towns from 1775 and 1778. This
unique collection of 24 images (later added by two more) represents the late
baroque portrait art in Spiš region. Eight paintings have been reconstructed
and some presented to the public after almost 150 years.
The portraits of
functionaries and administrators of the Province of XVI Spiš Towns, as well as
reeves of individual towns in this union, could be divided into two groups: the
first includes reeves of 16 Spiš towns (16 images with texts) and the second
functionaries and administrators of the province (5 images with text, 3 no
text). The paintings with text are dated to 1775, however images of three
reeves do not match archival sources. The artist (artists?) of the paintings
Hunting lodge of
After Count Stephan
XI Forgách built his charming hunting lodge in the Slánske Vrchy mountain range
(eastern Slovakia) at the end of the 19th century, it became his favourite
residence. The house dominated the locality of Okrúhly vrch (Round Hill) and
the count gradually kept spending more time there than in his manor house in
Slanec. Until his death in 1916, the hunting lodge was the place, where
aristocracy from all around the Hungarian Kingdom would meet for great hunts.
In 2016, on the occasion of Stephan Forgách’s 100th anniversary of his death,
the lodge was declared the Significant Forestry Place of the Slovak Republic
and added to the list of 46 other such localities. The Forestry and Wood
Processing Museum in Zvolen acted as the monument’s expert guarantee and the
Eastern Slovak Museum (VSM) in Košice also participated on the occasion with
its property collections of the Forgách family.
The author of the
article focuses on two family albums of the Forgáchs, now kept in VSM, which
came from the property of Francis Charles Forgách-Waldbott (1921 – 1945), son
of Baron Kelemen Waldbott and his wife Elisabeth Forgách. The first album is
preserved in quite a good condition, with 48 pages and photographs of the Slanec
castle ruin, Slanec manor house, nature of the Slánske Vrchy mountain range and
four photos of the hunting lodge at Okrúhly vrch. Apart from the mentioned
images, there are also 18 photos capturing the family holiday on the Greek
island of Corfu. The second album is in worse condition, with individual pages
falling out. It has 45 photos in total, mostly from the holiday at the Adriatic
coast in today’s Croatia, where we can identify the locality of Dubrovnik and
Split. Few photos are of Slanec castle ruin (6) and hunting lodge (2).
The albums entered
the museum after the end of the Second World War, when the hunting lodge was
abandoned and started to deteriorate. In 1985 it was demolished. With the
albums, the museum also acquired portraits of the Forgách family members, part
of Stephan Forgách’s library and some rare furniture. Many items from the 18th
and 19th century, however got irretrievably lost in private ownerships and
their fate is unknown.
Košice health care
buildings in the first half of the 20th century
The first public
hospital in Košice opened in 1831 in the town centre. In 1907, Košice architects
and developers Arpád and Géza Jakab built the Institute for Educating
Midwives and at that time a modern maternity hospital, which was designed by
famous Budapest architect Sándor Baumgarten (1864 – 1928). Košice acquired the
site for building a new State Hospital in 1909 and commissioned Budapest
architect György Kopeczek with the project. Because of the First World War, the
building works did not start until 1916. Košice State Hospital, administered by
the Ministry of Public Health and Physical Exercise in Prague, was ceremonially
opened on 24th of June 1924. Only 7 out of a total of 14 planned pavilions were
opened, with 600 beds. In 1937 the hospital had 15 pavilions and 947 beds. It
was the largest and most modern hospital in Slovakia, and its main pride were
the four surgical wards.
A complete change
in the hospital’s departments and personnel came after the Viennese arbitration
(1939 – 1945. Among those who also had to leave were the Czech architects and
builders, who helped with the building development in Košice between the wars. One
of them was Rudolf Brebta (1885 – 1953), who designed the so-called Masaryk’s
social house in the area of the State Hospital (1928, 1930 – 1932). It had the
cultivated features of the 1920s Prague School and was built by the Košice
branch of Czech developer Alois Novák. In cooperation with another Czech
architect Václav Bartoš, the company also built the modern building of the
Czechoslovak Red Cross at Comenius Street, in the northern part of the city.
The author of the
article also mentions two cases of public health care, in which the church
assisted the state during the interwar period. The anti-tuberculosis outpatient
service of the Czechoslovak State Railways in Košice was built following the
decree from 9th October 1924, which capped the building of the local health and
social care network. Czech architect Julius Zigmund (1881 – 1934) designed the
building and the Novák’s company built it. The modern two-storied outpatient building
was completed on the 30th of November 1929. In 1942 and 1943, when the Health
Insurance Company of the Hungarian State Railways owned the building, the architecture
was amended with an extension designed by Ferenc Kopváry from Budapest, which
was realised by the significant local architect Lajos Őry (Oelschläger).
The Nursing School
of the Daughters of Christian Love of St. Vincent de Paul was built in Košice
near the State Hospital in 1932. It followed the same principle as the first
Nursing School at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, established by F. Nightingale
in 1870. It was built by Košice architect Július Wirth (1881 – 1945) and served
its purpose until 1938, when Košice was usurped by Hungary. After 1948, the
state began to abolish all religious schools in Czechoslovakia. The sisters from
the State Nursing School in Košice were deported at the end of the school year
of 1949/50. The next year the school was renamed Higher School of Social
Healthcare – Nursing. Later, the Council Office of Košice-Juh moved in there.
The religious sisters came back to this former nursing school after 1989.
Coburg family from
Svätý Anton with their connections to Brazil
The owners of the
manor house in Svätý Anton (Antol), the Coburg family made their first
connection with Brazil 150 years ago, when two Coburg princes married Brasilian
princesses in different historical periods. In 1836, Mária da Glória (1819 –
1853), the daughter of the Brazilian Emperor Pedro I became wife of Ferdinand
August Franz Anton of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Mária da Glória became the queen
of Portugal in 1834 and her husband received the king tile, after their heir
was born. Quarter a cenntury later, the nephew of the Portugese king, Ludwig August
of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha visted Brazil and found himself a bride there
The Coburg princes
also liked to explore Brazil as a travelling and natural destination. Ludwig August’s
brothers, Philipp and Ferdinand (future Bulgarian tsar) visited Brazil in
1879. The renowned explorer and traveller Doctor Jindřich Vávra accompanied
them. Since it was a natural research expedition, they brought various kinds of
exotic birds and plants back to Europe. The Coburg princes also climbed the Itatiaia
Mountain and proved to be good climbers. The Bulgarian tsar Ferdinand Coburg visited
Brazil again in 1927 – 1928 and was mainly interested in exotic birds and
plants, especially bromeliads.
The exhibition Secret
Graphic Prints, which took place at Bratislava Castle at the end of last year
(November 23 to December 31, 2016) presented rare collections of the Svätý
Anton Museum. It was divided into three parts – one explained the relatinship
of the Coburg family with Brazil, the second presented the history of Sv.
Anton’s mansion and the third displayed 30 copies of large-scale graphic prints,
vedutas of European towns from the 18th century that were collected by the
mansion’s former owners.
Ján Batka (1845 –
Anton Batka Jr, personality of Bratislava cultural life, was born in Bratislava
on the 4th of October 1845. He graduated from the Hungarian Royal Catholic Main
Grammar School on the 16th of July 1864. Originally, he wanted to study music,
but he listened to his father and in 1864 enrolled to study Law Academy, from
which he graduated on the 24th of July 1868. Three years later he married the
daughter of a Bratislava businessman, Maria Walent (1846 – 1915). In the 1860s
he started working for the city council as practitioner in law
(Rechtspraktikant). After 5 years, he became the typist at the city’s main
league (Stadthauptmannsamt), where he got promoted to the deputy city captain
after one year. In 1879 Batka was appointed the city’s keeper of archives. He
remained in this post for 38 years until his death.
Ján Batka played a
key role at organising the cultural life in the city. He was a recognised music
and art authority in Bratislava. Through his personal contacts, he promoted
music of the new romantic period, mainly F. Liszt, R. Wagner and H. Berlioz. He
spread the word about the Russian composers of the 19th century across the
Slovak territory and admired the Bratislava native, composer and pianist Johann
Nepomuk Hummel (1778 – 1837). As a secretary of the Clerical Music Society
(Kirchenmusikverein zu Sankt Martin), he participated at organising the regular
November celebrations of the St. Cecilia festival (Cäcilienfeste).
From 1878, he was a
member of the city theatre and from 1882 a member of the board of directors
(Directions Mitglied) of Pressburger Singverein singing club. Batka was also
active as a publicist. He mainly wrote for Bratislava, but also Vienna and
Budapest periodicals. He worked with the local Pressburger Zeitung newspaper
for almost 50 years. He wrote entries about the musicians of the Hungarian
Kingdom for the Fétis’s encyclopaedia Biographie universelle des musiciens et
bibliographie générale de la musique (Paris, 1880). He edited the literary
works of the music historian and tutor August Wilhelm Ambros (1816 – 1876).
Batka was also interested in fine art. He was one of the founding members of
the Bratislava Art Society (Pressburger Kunstverein) in 1885. Together with art
historian Alfred Ilgo (1847 – 1896), he wrote a monograph on sculptor F. X.
Messerschmidt, which was published in 1885.
Ján Batka died on
the 2nd of December 1917. His personal belongings are now kept in the
Bratislava City Archives, City Library, Bratislava City Gallery and Bratislava
Juraj Červenka – Veronika Szeghy-Gayer
War pilot Albert Bujanovics and his mausoleum in Uzovce
There is very little known about the participation of Austro-Hungarian
air forces on the fronts of various parts of Europe during World War One.
People from all around the Habsburg Empire, including the territory of today’s
Slovakia, were in the service of the imperial and royal air corps (Kaiserliche
und königliche Luftfahrtruppen). One of those pilots was the native of Uzovce
in the Šariš region, First Lieutenant in reserve Albert Bujanovics.
He was born in 1895 in Uzovce (today’s district of Sabinov). He was a
Roman Catholic and graduated from a grammar school. One of the army documents
states that he spoke Hungarian, German, French and Slovak. He entered the 5th
Honved Hussar regiment in Košice in 1913 and began to attend air force school
on the 1st of November 1916. In April and May 1917, Lieutenant Bujanovics was
the member of Flik 40 air force (Fliegerkompagnie) and took part in 11
operational flights. From June 1917, he served at the Soča front (Soča River),
which ran through today’s Italian-Slovenian borders. Then came the fatal
accident. He crashed his Hansa-Brandenburg C.I from some 20 metres, while
practicing a flight over San Giustina airport on the 19th of March 1918, and
died on the spot. He was 22 years old.
After this tragedy, the Bujanovics family, who came from today’s
Croatia and was raised in the aristocracy in 1780, built a mausoleum in Uzovce,
which is a unique national cultural monument. There is no other sepulchral
monument in Slovakia that would be built for a hero of the First World War,
especially as an organic feature of a large English garden at a manor house
estate. The exact date of the mausoleum’s construction as well as the name of
the architect or builder is unknown. It is possible that it was built following
Albert’s death in March 1918 and after his remains were transported to Uzovce.
The plans of neither the mausoleum nor the Uzovce manor house reconstruction
have been preserved. All that exists is one period photograph of the mausoleum.
Soviet soldiers plundered the mausoleum at the end of the Second World War and
vandals continued to devastate it after the family was moved to Hungary.
The mausoleum was declared a national cultural monument in 2015, which
is the first step for starting a renovation. The municipality plans to
revitalise the historic park, which would be dominated by the Bujanovics family mausoleum
and a monument of the First World War.
14th century wall
paintings in Plešivec church
The research of the
medieval wall painting in the Gemer region, which took place in 2012, revealed
new findings from the 13th – 15th century. The most significant is the series
of frescos in the presbytery of the reformed Christians church in Plešivec. The
author of the article offers its iconographical as well as art-historical
analysis as a starting point for further study.
situated 15km southwest of Rožňava and used to be a significant medieval town.
In its centre is the Church of St. George, which dates to the beginning of the
14th century. It was originally built as a Roman-Catholic church for the Bebek
family, in the location of an older building. A chapel, which stands out
amongst the late-gothic buildings of the former Hungarian kingdom, was added to
this gothic church with a single nave and polygonally finished presbytery in
the 15th century.
The presbytery and
also part of the nave received a quality decoration painted in the second half
of the 14th century. The attack of the Ottoman army in 1558 destroyed the
gothic vaults, the entire western wall and the majority of the nave’s walls. In
1617 the reformed church started to repair the building. The interior received
a flat ceiling, medieval paintings were covered with lime coats and only one of
Seneca’s quotes from the original inscriptions was fragmentally preserved. The
windows in the presbytery were restored using original stone and new windows
were added to the nave. By building over the portal they separated the northern
chapel. The southern entrance was extended with a vestibule with a square
ground plan. A wooden western gallery was added in 1627. With its richly carved
and painted forehead it is a quality example of Gemer’s renaissance art.
The first frescos
in the church were uncovered during the renovation in 1895. Since then, the
figures of two saint kings have been presented on the exterior wall and the
figure of an apostle in the interior. In 1977 they unveiled and reconstructed
two scenes of the Christological cycle – The Last Supper and Crucifixion on the
southern wall of the presbytery. Since 2012 they have kept visible the unique
14-century fresco decoration in presbytery. The team of restorers led by Peter
Koreň managed to uncover fragments of the medieval paintings inside the nave as
well as outside the church. The fresco technology, advanced figural modelling
and compositional proximity evidently relates to the works of Italian Trecento,
suggesting an Italian master working in Plešivec.
Ladislav Vincze –
The Reformed Church
in Kalinčiakovo, the town part of Levice, is one of the oldest buildings in
Slovakia. It was possibly built in the middle of the 12th century, on a gentle
hill on the right bank of the Sikenica River. Preparations for its
reconstruction are on the way, which meant an archival research was carried out
prior to that. Its results brought new knowledge on the building’s historical
look, as well as unpublished photographs.
The municipality of
Kalinčiakovo is first mentioned as Wosyan in the document published around 1290.
It had been in the heritage property of the Simoniov family, the descendants of
Count Hont, until the 18th century. The builders of this originally
Roman-Catholic church in the Romanesque style were most probably local
aristocrats, however, there is no written evidence preserved. Medieval
documents do not contain a single mention about the Kalinčiakovo church. The
modern documents of the Roman Catholic clergy record three references about
this Church dedicated to St. Anna. The Simoniov family built it and Calvinists
violently took over it in 1655.
The authors of the
article studied visitation reports of the church from 1682, 1731, 1761, 1779
and 19th century. They illustrate the constructional development,
reconstructions and renovations of the church’s individual parts, mainly the
truss and roof. In 1864 they re-painted the church interior, covering rare wall
paintings. The first to point out this fact were the builder and
conservationist Imre Henszlmann, who visited the church in 1878, and the author
of the monograph on Tekov’s seniority of the Calvinist clergy K. Kiss (1879).
More detailed information about the paintings was documented in 1907, as part
of the church renovation.
The church condition
rapidly worsened between 1910 and 1913. The Hungarian monuments commission
decided to fund the renovation, but the outbreak of the First World War in 1914
destroyed the plans. The church was finally reconstructed in 1932, under the
supervision of architect Václav Mencl. It was then seriously damaged during the
Second World War and the general renovation did not take place until 1958 –
1959. The latest reconstruction works were carried out in 2003 – 2004, after
the building was struck by lightning.
Tulle Bobbin Lace
of the Myjava Highlands in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Slovakia
List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia registered the tulle bobbin
lace that is still being made and used in the Myjava Highlands in 2016. The
list currently chronicles 13 cultural traditions of Slovakia. Out of the 18
local and regional traditional bobbin laces that were recorded in Slovakia in
the middle of the 20th century, the tulle bobbin lace of the Myjava Highlands
is the finest and most difficult to make. It originated in the eastern Czech
town of Vamberk, from where two sisters, lace makers moved to the municipality
of Krajné in the 1880s. From there, the lace making spread to other villages
and in the 1940s it was mainly made in the areas of Myjava, Brezová pod Bradlom
and Krajné. After the Second World War, people gradually stopped wearing
traditional folk costumes, which meant less lace making.
The change came in
the second half of the 1990s, when a lace making activity group was founded in
1997 in Brezová pod Bradlom, today’s Club of Brezovská Lace Making. The members
not only made the laces but also collected and documented them. The
organisation of courses, as well as the documentation and promotion of the tulle
lace making in the region is administered by the Centre of Traditional Culture
in Myjava. The lace is still being made in Kostolné, Košariská, Prašník,
Priepasné, Turá Lúka and Vrbové.